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In memory of Per Andersen

Per Oskar Andersen passed away at the age of 90 at his home on 17th February. Norway has lost one its leading neuroscientists and the Institute a valued colleague.

Portrait of Per Andersen
Professor Per Andersen
Photo: G.F Lothe/UiO

The University of Oslo is a world leader in the field of neuroscience and Per Andersen made a major contribution to the university’s standing in this field. He was part of what came to be known as the Oslo School of Neuroanatomy and his work there helped to produce a number of ground-breaking research results. His fundamental research into how the brain works attracted particular attention, also internationally. The Royal Society, where Per was a member, describes his contribution succinctly as follows:

“His discoveries have shaped our understanding of neural circuitry”
The Royal Society

Per Andersen was Professor of Physiology at IMB and his studies of the neurons and neural networks involved in the processes of learning and memory led to a long list of research breakthroughs. He supported and encouraged younger researchers and the list of his former PhD students who subsequently carried on with brain research is impressive:

  • Nobel prize winners Edvard Moser and May-Britt Moser
  • Anders Jahre prize winner Terje Lømo (neuroscientist, UiO)
  • Professor Leif Gjerstad (consultant in neurology, OUS)
  • Professor Iver Langmoen (consultant in neurology, OUS)
  • Professor Gyo-Yuan Hu (neuroscientist, Shanghai)
  • Professor Johan F. Storm (neuroscientist, UiO)
  • Dr. Øivind Hvalby (neuroscientist, UiO)
  • Professor Ole Paulsen (neuroscientist, Cambridge University, UK)
  • Professor Morten Raastad (neuroscientist, Emory University, USA)
  • Dr. Vidar Jensen (neuroscientist, UiO)

Andersen also worked closely with a large number of world-leading brain researchers, for example the Nobel prize winners Sir John Eccles, Paul Greengard, John O’Keefe, Erik Kandel and Bert Sakmann, and many other neuroscientists who are currently working at universities all over the world, many of whom are international leaders in their fields.

Furthermore, Andersen taught over 5000 medical students. Among these were Professors Jon Storm-Mathisen, Ole Petter Ottersen and Niels Chr. Danbolt who were inspired to do neuro-anatomical research by Andersen.

“An era of brain research has come to an end”
Jon Storm-Mathisen

Per Andersen came to be known as an accomplished and inspiring presenter of research and he brought knowledge about the brain to life for the general public through a television series on NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation).

Per Andersen received a great many awards and honours, and he is one of the very few foreigners who have been granted membership of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and the Royal Society (UK, where he is the only Norwegian member). In addition, he was awarded the Order of St Olav and several honorary doctorates.

Our thoughts are with Per’s family and with Kari, who stood faithfully by his side throughout.

Per Andersen’s funeral took place at Haslum Crematorium on 26th February.

By Kyrre Vigestad, Deborah Ann Arnfinsen
Published Mar. 2, 2020 9:06 AM - Last modified May 8, 2020 10:49 AM